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Disqualified 2022 Michigan gubernatorial candidate James Craig announces 2024 Senate bid

The former Detroit police chief opposes abortion rights and gun safety measures, and promoted Donald Trump’s election lies.

By Josh Israel - October 03, 2023
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James Craig, a former Detroit police chief, announces he is a Republican candidate for governor of Michigan, on Sept. 14, 2021, in Detroit.
James Craig, a former Detroit police chief, announces he is a Republican candidate for governor of Michigan, on Sept. 14, 2021, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)

Former Detroit Police Chief James Craig announced Tuesday that he will run for a Michigan U.S. Senate seat in 2024, a year after he was thrown off the Michigan Republican gubernatorial primary ballot for submitting fraudulent petition signatures. The right-wing candidate joins a crowded GOP field in the race to succeed retiring Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow.

James opposes abortion rights, sees no need for new gun safety laws, backs tax cuts for the richest Americans, and has a history of supporting former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results.

“Everything that I see going on today … it’s frustrating,” James told Fox News Digital on Oct. 3. “I’m angry about so much, when it comes to open borders and seeing the level of fentanyl poisoning.“

Craig’s 2024 campaign site accuses President Joe Biden of being “beholden to the far left climate change/ESG agenda” and supports the expansion of oil and gas drilling.

His issues page includes both criticism of the federal government over its budget deficit and demands for more tax cuts that would benefit the wealthiest Americans and make the deficit even larger.

“At present, the U.S. government spends more than it earns, running up a budget deficit of $1.5 trillion,” the campaign says in a section about reducing spending. In a section called “Slashing taxes,” it calls for the “elimination or reduction” of the estate tax, a tax that applies only to the estates of the wealthiest 0.2% of Americans after they die.

Craig’s extreme views aren’t new.

During his eight years as Detroit police chief, activists accused officers of responding with disproportionately aggressive measures to peaceful protests, including arrests, tear-gassing nonviolent crowds, and even driving an SUV into a group of Black Lives Matter protesters.

When supporters of President Donald Trump illegally tried to enter a ballot-counting location in Detroit in the aftermath of the 2020 election, Craig acknowledged, they were treated less harshly by police than were Black Lives Matter activists. Craig claimed it was “because they were peaceful.”

Craig, who is Black, announced his 2022 gubernatorial candidacy during an appearance on racist Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s program. Carlson has endorsed the white nationalist “great replacement” conspiracy theory that immigrants are being brought to America as part of a plan to outnumber and replace its white population.

Craig embraced Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election had been stolen. Asked in August 2021 if Biden had legitimately won, he answered, “If there was evidence, if there was a proper investigation that the election was stolen… I don’t have that information,” according to the Detroit Free Press.

“Open, free and fair elections are an essential part of democracy, and it is important for people to have faith in our election system to protect democracy as we know it,” he said in an October 2021 op-ed published in the Detroit News. “That’s why I support an extensive audit of the election results to restore faith and identify weak points in our election systems.”

At a September 2021 campaign event, Craig endorsed an archaic 1931 state abortion ban and said he’d oppose any attempts to repeal it: “I will do whatever I can — I’m pro-life.”

Days later, his campaign released a statement that said, “James Craig is unapologetically pro-life and opposes liberal efforts for abortion on demand, late term abortions, and partial birth abortions.”

According to a June 2021 story in the National Review, Craig told Fox News that he opposes gun violence legislation: “We don’t have a gun problem in America. What we have is a criminal problem. . . Criminals don’t follow the law. They’re going to get guns, so what do we want to focus on? Getting guns from law-abiding citizens?. . . It’s not about guns; it’s about criminals who have guns, and they don’t get the guns legally. That’s the bottom line.”

In April 2022, Craig told Fox 2 Detroit that Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ “Don’t Say Gay” law, which bars schools from discussing topics related to LGBTQ+ people until after third grade, did not go far enough, according to a Deadline Detroit report. “Why are we going to have teachers teaching K through 3 sexual orientation or gender identity? It’s wrong. In fact I would be a little more aggressive with it. I would go beyond the third grade, maybe the sixth grade.” The Florida law has since been expanded to apply through the 12th grade.

Craig submitted 21,735 signatures supporting his gubernatorial candidacy to the Michigan secretary of state’s office in April 2020. Democratic and Republican opponents successfully challenged 7,000 of those signatures as forged, leaving him below the 15,000 minimum and causing him to be denied a spot on the Republican primary ballot. His campaign denied knowledge of the fraud and blamed a “handful of circulators.”

Craig will likely face a competitive primary against several other Republicans who also oppose reproductive rights and gun safety legislation and support tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. The Cook Political Report rates the race competitive, leaning Democratic. Early polling in the race shows U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin leading in the Democratic primary and in hypothetical general election matches.

“Michigan Republicans’ nasty, chaotic Senate primary has gone from bad to worse. Their intra-party fight is guaranteed to leave them with a nominee who is badly damaged and out of step with working families,” Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lavora Barnes said in a press statement on Tuesday. “Craig has a long record of dodging accountability and leaving Michiganders behind, from standing against Michigan’s auto workers to backing an abortion ban with no exceptions for rape or incest.”

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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